These 11 most elite country clubs in the world are favorite playgrounds of the rich and famous.
Country clubs started opening in the US in the late 19th century. Spurred by their predecessors in England, where it was unimaginable for a well-to-do gentleman not to hold membership in one or more country clubs, Americans decided that they too should have the same benefits. Country clubs should not be confused with gentlemen’s clubs, which are urban variant (think Sherlock Holmes sitting in a comfortable leather armchair in front of a fire, with a book in one hand and a glass of very old brandy in the other). While brandy and books may be found in every elite country club in the world, they are more of outdoor activity centers than a place to leisurely spend an evening before going out to dinner.
One of the first activities original country clubs offered were horseback riding and hunting. The equestrian component largely faded away in modern times, but some of the oldest and most esteemed country clubs kept the hunting traditions alive. One of the things almost all of them have in common are golf courses. There’s a hardly a country club worth its name that doesn’t have one. In fact, in recent decades, golf club and country club have become almost synonyms. Technically speaking, that’s not entirely wrong, since, by definition, every golf club is a country club in an original sense of the world. The opposite isn’t always true since a country club can exist (although it is highly unlikely and extremely rare) without a golf course. Golf has taken over polo as the sport for the rich elite, in part because it has become an unavoidable part of country clubs.
As golf developed as a sport, more and more tournaments were being added to the calendars of golf associations around the world. Soon, it became a matter of prestige to belong to a club that hosts some of these tournaments. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth is an important part of appeal these prestigious country clubs had to offer. Those rich enough that could afford it could even get few private lessons from the champions.
In order to find out which are the most elite country clubs in the world, we combined several listings. We started with Ask Men and Business Insider lists. Since golf is an unavoidable part of a modern country club, we also included Golf Digest’s list of best golf courses in the world. Extra points were awarded to the clubs listed on the 2015 Platinum Clubs of the World list. Considering how elite this country clubs are, it is no wonder there’s some overlap with the list of the most expensive golf membership.